Letter to the editor from Mary Ellen Markowitz
Republican campaign platforms remind me of Henry Ford’s statement, “You can have any color you want, so long as it’s black.”
Except for Republicans, it’s “I’ll talk about any issue you want, so long as it’s taxes.”
So, it comes as little surprise that a recent mailing from Harry Arora, Republican candidate for the 151 st Assembly District, talks about nothing but opposition to taxes, as though that’s the only policy position about which voters should care.
Not surprisingly, the message revolves around attacking Democrats for raising taxes on this, that and the other thing. There are two problems: his accusations are misleading and his solutions disingenuous.
Democrats did not impose a new tax on plastic bags. Instead, to help protect the environment they instituted a fee to discourage filling landfills with single-use plastic bags (across the globe about 1 trillion single-use plastic bags are used annually). No one is forced to pay the fee; everyone has the option of bringing their own bags. Perhaps Mr. Arora opposes the fee because he doesn’t believe climate change is real.
Arora disparagingly talks about the new payroll tax without mentioning that it was put in place to fund a new paid family and medical leave benefit. The funds are going into an insurance fund; workers aren’t giving more of their paychecks “to the state.” PFML is hugely popular among workers regardless of political affiliation. Of course, Republican legislators could have lessened the burden on workers by requiring employers share the cost, but that would have violated their principle of putting companies before people.
Arora’s alternative to taxes is to attack wasteful “government bureaucracy.” The problem is, the mailer doesn’t say where the waste is or what programs he would cut.
It’s easy for Arora to promise to solve the state’s fiscal challenges by cutting spending; it’s a lot harder to be honest about what services he’s going to cut. Especially since under the Malloy administration, as reported by the Office of Policy and Management, the state workforce was trimmed to the lowest level in more than two decades, resulting in the lowest ratio of state workers to population since the 1950s.
Arora has also jumped on the “no tolls” bandwagon, but hides the dirty little secret that the Republican solution for funding the state’s transportation infrastructure improvements is to take on more debt.
Remember when Republicans railed against deficit spending? Turns out burdening our children with future debt repayment is acceptable as long as it’s paying for today’s tax cuts, most of which go to the affluent (Fairfield County has one of the widest income inequality gaps in the nation).
Arora’s opponent, Cheryl Moss, doesn’t like taxes any more than you do. But as a responsible legislator, she’s isn’t pandering to voters. If you live in the 151 st Assembly District, vote on January 21 or complete an absentee ballot at town hall.
Mary Ellen Markowitz
Note: This letter was submitted prior to the Jan 14, 5pm deadline for letters to the editor in support or against a candidate for the Jan 21 special election for State Rep between Harry Arora and Cheryl Moss.